North Canterbury's action-packed indoor stadium


The new Handball League Aotearoa is proving popular at MainPower Stadium. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
The new Handball League Aotearoa is proving popular at MainPower Stadium. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Demand at MainPower Stadium is growing as local and national organisations recognise its value.

The indoor stadium in Rangiora is attracting tournaments ranging from basketball and handball to volleyball and futsal.

Many local clubs are using it for their weekly competition, while a range of national sports associations are returning as they enjoy the spacious courts, and supporting facilities.

The Trident Home Tactix have already played one of its ANZ premier netball games at the stadium earlier this year, which was a sellout.

It has a second match scheduled for July 14 against the Avis Magic, which is also a sellout even with additional seating being added.

The Tactix are enjoy a strong homecourt advantage at MainPower Stadium thanks to its ‘‘intimate’’ seating layout, providing an ‘‘electrifying atmosphere’’ which has seen them remain unbeaten at the venue.

The team also enjoys having all the facilities they needed under the one roof, while spectators enjoy the boutique-type facility allowing them to be close to the action.

In early May Canterbury Handball hosted the inaugural matches of the newly created Handball League Aotearoa at MainPower Stadium.

A total of 120 athletes from eight men’s and women’s regional representative handball teams from Auckland, Wellington, Canterbury and Otago gathered in Rangiora for the first ‘‘Super Weekend’’ of this new high-performance national league.

Justin Cope from Canterbury Handball says MainPower stadium is an amazing venue for handball.

‘‘Handball requires a large court (40m x 20m) and there are very few facilities in the greater Christchurch area that can offer both the dimensions needed to host a high-performance competition and the court markings,’’ he says.

The court is the same size as an international size futsal court, which MainPower Stadium has permanently marked out.

‘‘All we needed was the friendly crew at MainPower Stadium to add a few additional handball-specific court markings, which they were very happy to do, and we were ready to go. ‘‘At previous venues we have needed to compromise on the size of the court and spend time marking out the court ourselves.’’

He says the MainPower team was excellent to deal with and really ‘‘bent over backwards’’ to help run what was a very successful tournament.

‘‘We're definitely going to be making more use of the Stadium for handball.’’

Meanwhile, the Afghan Association of Canterbury is returning to the stadium for another sports tournament over Matariki weekend — June 28 to 30 — the third tournament it has held at the stadium.

The tournament will run from 8am to 6pm and involve 36 Afghan Volleyball and futsal teams from across New Zealand/ Aotearoa, and Australia, as they compete at New Zealand’s largest Afghan Multi Sports event.

There will also be traditional Afghan delicacies available from food stalls. It is believed to be New Zealand’s largest Afghan Multi Sport event.

Basketball has also been taking centre stage at the facility. It continues to nurture young basketballers and grow its talented players through North Canterbury Basketball Association’s weekly competition and the growing number of national tournaments it hosts.

The under 20, four-day Foot Locker national basketball tournament was held recently, with a strong North Canterbury contingent in the Canterbury women’s team.

The team went through unbeaten, defeating Tauranga 68-61 in the grand final.

The North Canterbury members of the squad included the managers, Tony and Linda Loffhagen, head coach Sam Watkins, and assistant coach Lauren Whittaker who was named Most Valued Player at the nationals tournament last year. Lauren is studying in the United States on a basketball scholarship but is back home at the moment on a semester break from Gonzaga University in Washington.

Two other North Canterbury members of the successful squad were Ashlyn Rean and Ivy Brown, who are also studying at universities in the United States on basketball scholarships. Ashlyn is based in Alaska at the University of Alaska Anchorage, and Ivy is based in Florida at Florida Southwestern State College, but they have also returned home while on semester breaks.

Ashlyn was in the top six overall point scorers at the national tournament and because of this was selected for the Women’s All Star Five Tournament Team, which consists of the five women players voted best at the tournament.

The other North Canterbury women’s players in the successful Canterbury team included Emma Loffhagen, Evie Leeson (who was also named defensive player of the tournament) and Aliyah Newton.

Canterbury teams dominated the tournament with the Canterbury A Men’s team also winning gold in its final, beating Waikato 98-80.

The King’s Birthday weekend tournament, which was hosted by the North Canterbury Basketball Association, catered for 25 teams and 267 athletes competing in 79 games.

The grand finals on Monday, June 3, were played in front of packed crowds.

By Robyn Bristow and Shelley Topp